|Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to persons living, dead, space aliens, goats, forum posters, editors, beta readers, musicians, or writers are purely coincidental. There may be sexual content so if this, in any form, offends you, please cease reading this lest it send you screaming from the room. If you are not of legal age to read this, please don't.|
|Chapter 32: Meltemi|
Sitting on Jim’s teakwood deck, looking north up the beach, Dirk and Jim watched the seagulls wheeling lazily overhead, listening to their plaintive cries, carried on the warm breeze.
Dirk took a drink of his gin and tonic and kept looking north. “Jim, what should I be doing about Trev?” Dirk asked, his gaze fixed in the distance.
Jim blinked, pondering the question for a few moments before replying, “I think you’ve done the right thing, under the circumstances. He has Joel for help and company so he’s not alone, and this way he’ll have him there for support when he finds out. Besides, I think the two of them will have a blast, sailing around the world. I’d have killed to do that at their age.”
Dirk gave Jim the briefest of sharp glances, and then added, in a pained voice, breaking with emotion, “He’ll hate me, and he’ll have every right.”
Jim stared at the seagulls as they traced patterns across the clear blue sky. Finally, he nodded, just once. “My guess is he’ll be furious at first, but he’ll understand, given time. I’m a lot more worried about you. Gonzalez wasn’t too happy with some of your answers; he knows you’re hiding something. It doesn’t help that you don’t know much of anything about Arnold Bellevue’s murder, which I think Gonzalez was counting on you to know. I think he was hoping that you could make his case. Now, my guess is he’s going to take another look at you for both that, and for Rachel. He’ll want to interview you himself, and my guess is sooner rather than later.”
Dirk sighed, and took a drink of beer. “We’ve already told him everything I know about Arnold Bellevue. Rachel handled most of the details of the Ares purchase, so I only met the guy twice. I didn’t even know he was dead until Rachel told me, and she said it was a boating accident; he was creamed in the head with the boom while sailing alone, and he drowned. I can’t say more because I don’t know more.”
“The problem is, Gonzalez doesn’t seem to believe it. He’s suspicious; good cops usually are, that’s their nature, so he thinks we’re hiding something. The trouble is, it’s the wrong thing. What’s worrying me is he’ll offer you a deal; full immunity if you’ll agree to tell everything. The problem there is, in your case, neither he or the district attorney have that power, but they don’t know it, and we sure as hell can’t tell them,” Jim said, beginning to pace. “And even if they did, you don’t know anything they’re interested in that you haven’t already disclosed. Catch-22: You don’t know what they need, but subjecting yourself to grand jury testimony is a horrendously bad idea; perjury is a major offense.”
Dirk stared out to sea for a few moments. “Gonzalez is after Bridget Bellevue... He thinks she killed Arnold when she found out he was divorcing her, right?”
Jim nodded. He’d called in a few favors to find out what he could on that case. “Sort of... That’s my read on it at the moment, but I really don’t know for sure yet. He has a tough case if so; Arnold’s body was recovered at sea and there was blood on the boom, but forensics didn’t think it looked right... and there was some question regarding time of death. He didn’t drown; the blow to the head killed him. They searched for evidence that someone else had been aboard, but Bridget Bellevue said she’d been aboard that boat many times, so her DNA and fingerprints showing up proved nothing. I think there’s more to the case... but I haven’t been able to find out what – yet.”
“What if... what if we could turn up something that proved she killed him?” Dirk asked.
Jim shook his head. “The chances of that are just about zero; I can’t think of anything we could do that Officer Gonzalez can’t, and if we start poking around, we’re a lot more likely to get ourselves in trouble than anything else.”
Gliding across the sparkling waters, the Sea Witch turned into the east-west channel separating Nassau, on the south, from Paradise Island. The towers of the Atlantis Resort loomed large on the west end of Paradise Island, and Bridget used them as a landmark; they were directly north of the entrance to the Atlantis Marina. She smiled, her hair blowing in the warm breeze. “I’ve been to the Bahamas countless times, but never here. We should stay a few days; it looks quite pleasant,” she said, smiling at George.
George Alfred nodded, grinning. “I’d like that; I’ll call in sick for a couple of days.” Detective Alfred had, long ago, set up a switch on his fax line so he could relay calls out on his home line, so there was no risk of the department figuring out where he was calling from. Both he and Bridget had sets of fake ID, which they were accustomed to using in the Bahamas. Detective Alfred glanced at the luxury resort, and added, “I hope the cartel will come through for us.”
Bridget waved a hand dismissively as she spun the wheel to port, turning into the marina. “Don’t worry about that. You and I have been dealing with them for over a decade, and Arnold and I for a decade before that. Besides, I’m hardly asking for a favor; I’ll pay them well, far more than the going rate for a contract.”
As they approached the public docking area, Bridget pointed to her right, at a docked catamaran. “There’s a familiar profile; a Lagoon 55. Pity she’s not Atlantis, or this would be so much easier. Had I known we’d need to do this, I’d have never warned that boy away from the Bahamas.”
George Alfred lifted his sunglasses and spent a few moments studying the Lagoon 55, which was named Stardancer. “Had you not, he could have hit lucky and found the wreck of Ares...”
“There is that,” Bridget allowed. “From what I’ve been hearing for a couple of years now, the boy seems obsessed with finding that boat, or his mother’s body. I wish he’d have found the latter; it would have ended his obsession with Ares, and with it my need to keep an eye on him.”
George gave Bridget a puzzled glance, and asked, “I’m curious about that first anonymous e-mail you sent; how did you know when Atlantis would be transiting the Strait of Messina?”
Bridget gave George a proud smile, and then brushed her graying, windswept hair back. “A simple matter of reasoning, greatly aided by the fact I’ve spent time in Italy. I already knew that Trevor was in Italy, somewhere not too far from Naples. When I was speaking with him on the phone, it came to light that he’d been in a waterfront restaurant which adjoined funicular tracks. There is but one location in that region that fits, and that’s Capri. I’ve eaten in that restaurant several times, so I recognized it right away. Via Lisa and Trevor, I knew when he’d be sailing, and I’m familiar with those waters. It was easy enough to look at a weather plot and with the known abilities of his boat at hand, discern his likely arrival time at the strait.”
George gave Bridget a nod of respect. “That’s damn fine detective work.”
Bridget smiled, her eyes sparkling. “Thank you, George. I’m just glad that we’ll have far more accurate – not to mention easier – information on his Suez transit.”
The meeting did not take long. It occurred in a suite, with three senior members of the cartel, all of whom Bridget had met before. After discussing a few business matters, Bridget explained her need for the hit and presented her plan, and then her offer.
A man who often went by the name of Sanchez, who had the most experience with such things, spoke for all three cartel members when he said, “This will be problematic, to a degree. A normal contract is not so specific regarding the conditions under which the target must die. Operating in Egypt will not be a problem for us; we have associates there. The problem will be arranging the death to fit the needed criteria. Make no mistake, we’ll do what we can; our relationship with you goes back many years and has been very beneficial to us.”
Bridget smiled warmly. “Thank you, Sanchez. I don’t think the manner of death will be difficult. Fate has been kind enough to present us with an excellent opportunity. The yacht had a bomb scare in the Strait of Messina, conveniently triggered by Dirk Carlson’s attorney appearing aboard. Two of Trevor’s friends – one of whom was aboard – were witnesses. If Atlantis were to be destroyed by a bomb that also kills Trevor Carlson, it would fit with the fate of Ares, nicely implicating Dirk Carlson, via his lover, for the murder, and by extension further implicating him for the murder he did commit. It would be a sound case; conspiracy to commit, and all that. We only need him charged, though a conviction would be icing on the proverbial cake. We’ll need to make certain the bomb is triggered in the canal or in shallow water near shore, in order to leave easily recoverable evidence behind. We’ll also need to procure some traceable items from Dirk Carlson’s store, for use in the construction of the bomb. This I can handle, provided that your associates can provide the explosives and take care of emplacing them on Atlantis. I can also provide the time, day, and date when the yacht will be transiting Suez, assuming that’s when your people would want to make the attempt?”
The man known as Sanchez gazed out the window. “Yes, that would be likely; I’ll find out. From what you say, this will not be difficult, so long as we have the parts you’ll provide a week prior to the transit. I’ll make certain that the explosives will be ready. I’ll give you my guarantee; we’ll do all that we can. I must admit, I find the amount of your offer – one shipment, gratis, plus a hundred thousand dollars in cash – oddly large. We need you, as you surely know, so it puzzles me why you did not try to do this for less?” The man known as Sanchez was not one to look a gift horse on the mouth, but only extreme caution had allowed him to survive for so long.
Bridget understood Sanchez’s reasons, and perceived the risk. She decided to level with him. “My reasoning is simple; I stand to lose everything, and for me, this amount is not large. I am also aware that by specifying a method of death, I have increased the complexity.” Bridget fixed Sanchez in a steely gaze. “I would be a fool to attempt to cut corners when my life is at risk. Better by far to pay high for a job well done, when the cost of failure would be infinitely higher. What would you do, were you in my position?”
Sanchez, satisfied, gave Bridget one of his rare smiles. “Exactly as you are, I suppose. Very well, I will see that this is done.”
With business concluded, Sanchez indulged in a tradition of which he’d grown fond, one of his few concessions to sentimentality: the deal was sealed, with a round of aguardiente, an anise-flavored spirit distilled from sugar-cane molasses, the traditional liquor of Colombia.
After the meeting, Bridget and George checked into the resort, and as soon as they were alone, George arched an enquiring eyebrow as he asked, “What’s our timeline like? I can get the alarm bypass codes via the department and do the job at the chandlery on any night, no problem, but when do we need to do it by? Maybe we should head back?”
Bridget shook her head. “No need, we have time. Trevor is dropping Joel off in Cyprus in just under two weeks, and it will take him a few days to get to the Suez from there. We won’t be shipping anything illegal, so it could go Federal Express or similar, if need be. We have time, so let’s enjoy ourselves while we’re here.”
George stood at Bridget’s side, and with a formal flourish, presented his crooked elbow, “Then, my love, will you do the honor of accompanying me to lunch?”
“Of course, George, I’d be delighted,” Bridget replied, linking her arm with that of her longtime lover’s.
“Just keep going, slow and easy, and keep your feet on the trail,” Mike called back over his shoulder, as he led the way down the goat trail, unwittingly heading for the greatest concentration of unexploded munitions on the island.
Trevor and Joel were over a hundred feet apart, both of them trying to keep the guests calm by appearing unafraid.
For Trevor, each step was one taken in trepidation, and with every moment, he expected the ground to erupt with a blinding roar. He glanced back at Joel, hoping they’d both make it out okay. ‘I hope Joel makes it even if I don’t...’ Trevor thought, as the interminable march through danger continued.
Joel glanced ahead at Trevor, worried that Trevor had exposed himself to added danger by taking position behind Mike. Joel feared for their safety, but also for another reason... he was afraid that Trevor would never forgive him for getting them into this mess, which Joel now realized is exactly what he’d done when he’d arranged the charter.
Knowing that each step could be his last, Joel found himself thinking of Lisa... and in that moment, he reached a decision.
The goat trail angled a few degrees to the right as it cut diagonally down the hillside, and the group marched on, in tense silence, each dreading that their next step could be their last.
After another hundred yards, Mike turned around to shout, “I think we’re out of it; no cratering ahead. Stay single-file until we’re on the beach, just to be sure, but we’ll be fine.”
A few people cheered, but Phil scowled at Blake and said, “Lovely place you’ve brought us to. Any more surprises like this in store?”
Blake glared back. “None of the other islands were used for target practice, at least not that I know of.”
“The things you don’t know could fill a damn library,” Phil shot back, and then raised his voice to yell, “The next stop is another uninhabited island, and I’ve had my fill of ‘em. I say we tell our captain to anchor off the inhabited one, two miles away. Blake and whoever else wants to go can go to his deserted island in the Zodiac. Sound okay to you, Captain?”
Trevor didn’t like being thrust into the middle of the argument, and he paused for a moment, trying to figure out how to answer.
Blake made use of the silence to tell Trevor, “If you want the rest of the money, you’ll do as I say.”
“That’s our fucking money, most of it anyway, so like hell you’ll get away with that,” Phil yelled, ignoring Mike’s advice to remain single-file and stalking towards Blake.
Mike could see things getting worse fast, and on past trips he’d often played peacemaker between Phil and Blake. He was about to speak up when his wife, Jane, beat him to it. “Enough, you two,” Jane said, and then looked in turn at the three other wives. “Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of minefields and uninhabited islands. Let’s anchor off Kimolos, and then Blake can go to Polyagios in the skiff if he wants to. The rest of us can see Kimolos and soak up some sun on the beach.”
The other three wives, including Blake’s wife, Barbra, nodded in agreement. With a crestfallen expression on his face, Blake told Trevor, “I guess I’m outvoted. Anchor at Kimolos, but you’ll need to run me to and from Polyagios in the Zodiac.”
Trevor nodded in agreement. “That won’t be a problem.”
“I hope not,” Blake said sourly.
Mike noticed Phil and Blake glaring at each other again. Trying to defuse the conflict, he pointed ahead and called out, “There’s Atlantis, we’re safe now.”
As soon as everyone was aboard, Trevor and Joel began serving drinks under the waning late afternoon sun. Blake glanced at the shore, took a sip of his martini, and said, “We’ll need to avoid that area when we go ashore again.”
“Gee, ya think?” Phil yelled, and then said in a lower, but still loud voice, “I can’t see any reason to stay here any longer.”
Blake turned to look at his group, but found himself staring at seven resolute sets of eyes. Shrugging, he said, “I suppose not. Trevor, get underway.”
On that sour note, Trevor and Joel raised anchor and set sail, taking Atlantis out into the strong north winds and rising seas, heading for Kimolos, sixty miles to the south.
An hour later, while Joel was fixing dinner, Mike caught Trevor alone in the cockpit. “Exciting day, huh?” Mike asked, smiling wryly.
“Yeah, that was a first for me. I’m sure glad you knew what to do,” Trevor said, glancing back in the direction of Gyaros.
“It wasn’t all that bad, really. We probably weren’t in all that much danger, but it’s good to take precautions.” Mike lowered his voice to a whisper. “What I really need to talk to you about is Blake and Phil. They fight a lot, but they calm down pretty quick. They’ll probably be okay, now that we’re away from Gyaros. Just make sure Blake can get to Polyagios on the Zodiac, and we’ll be fine. Basically, they’re both stubborn as hell, but this way they can both have what they want. Oh, and in spite of what Blake may say, we all pitched in for the trip, so he can’t threaten to not pay you.”
Trevor smiled. “Thanks. I’ve done a lot of charters, and had all kinds of stuff happen, but being in a minefield is a first.”
They had a somewhat tense dinner at sea, and that atmosphere was not aided by the fact that Atlantis was pitching in near-gale conditions. Trevor remained at the helm, and as soon as he could, Joel carried a plate of food out to him. With a sad look on his face, Joel handed the plate to Trevor and said, “Trev, I’m sorry for getting us into this.”
Trevor looked up from the plate of stir-fry and blinked at Joel. “What are you talking about? The charter? Or the minefield?”
“Both,” Joel replied.
Trevor blinked again. He could tell that Joel wasn’t joking. “There’s no way in hell you could have known, man. Don’t stress over it.” Trevor lowered his voice. “I’m just sorry some of the guests are kind of hard to deal with. I’ve had worse, but it’s probably not what you expected, huh?”
Joel looked at Trevor in surprise. “Aside from the minefield, I’ve been enjoying it. It’s different, for sure, but I can see why you like chartering. I do too, and just so you know, I’m planning on inviting myself along as crew on some of your charters when you get home,” Joel said, as a smile spread across his face.
“Welcome to my world,” Trevor said, grinning.
Atlantis anchored off Kimolos just before midnight, and Trevor slept in the cockpit again, falling into the familiar routine of a charter. He woke at dawn, checked the anchor lines and the weather report, and then headed for the galley, where he fired up the coffeemaker and checked the galley supplies.
Trevor returned to the cockpit just as Joel padded down from the deck, looking sleepy. Trevor nodded in greeting, and then glanced ashore. “We’re near a small town, there should be a small grocery store, and we’ll need to stock up–”
“Do that,” Blake said, startling Trevor and Joel as he padded out into the cockpit, coffee in hand. “I heard enough to know that you’re trying to plan the food out. I’ll make this easy; we’re not fussy and we’re aware that you did not have time to prepare. In general, local food is a plus: Greek cheeses, Greek yogurts, that kind of thing. We’ll eat ashore for at least our main meal of the day, probably every day. When you go to a food store, take at least two of the wives with you and let them pick things out; that’ll keep everyone happy,” Blake said, and then looked out at the island before adding, “I’ll need a packed lunch and water for my explorations today. Any kind of sandwich will do, but I need it ready in half an hour, and I’ll need ferrying to Polyagios.”
Blake returned to his cabin, and Trevor shook his head and smiled. “He’s pushy, for sure. I’ll run him over to the island if you’ll make the sandwiches,” Trevor whispered.
Joel glanced at the Zodiac. “Yeah, no problem... but if you want to get back at him, you make the sandwiches. That’d teach him...”
“Shut up,” Trevor said, chuckling.
Joel looked out at the choppy strait. “It’s rough today. Good thing we’re in a sheltered anchorage,” Joel said, and then went inside to make the sandwiches.
Trevor ferried Blake to Polyagios, just over a mile across the choppy channel. He set him ashore, handing him a handheld VHF radio, and showing him how to use it. Blake examined the device, and then told Trevor, “If you don’t hear from me, I’ll be back here at six tonight.” Without another word, Blake turned away to walk inland.
Trevor returned to Atlantis, and Joel took the remaining guests ashore to the village.
The days at Kimolos went smoothly, a relief to Trevor and Joel. Blake was content to spend his time on Polyagios, and the rest of the guests preferred exploring Kimolos.
On the final afternoon, Trevor and Joel led a dive off Polyagios for the certified divers, and upon their return, to Trevor’s surprise, Blake and Phil seemed like old friends, the animosity they’d shown on Gyaros seemingly forgotten.
When dealing with the sea, there is no substitute for local knowledge. Without it, one is forced to rely on assumptions that may not hold true. For this reason, Trevor was unfamiliar with a weather condition known as a Meltemi. On his weather charts, the north winds showed as strong, but nothing he couldn’t handle. In Florida waters, he would have been correct, but the Meltemi is different.
The Meltemi wind, known to the
classical Greeks as Etesian, is common in the Greek summer,
caused when a high-pressure weather cell takes hold over the
Balkans, coupled with a low-pressure system over Turkey. The
winds around a high rotate clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere,
while around a low, they rotate counter-clockwise. With the
highs and lows in place, both serve to drive a powerful wind out
of the north, down the Aegean.
Most of the Aegean islands are mountainous and often separated by narrow straits. This serves to focus the power of the Meltemi in north-south straits and channels, much akin to the intake of a jet engine. This leads to sudden, violent sea conditions in confined waters. Countless ships have been lost to the Meltemi over the centuries, but it is little known beyond the Aegean.
Trevor had never heard of the Meltemi, and so, on the last morning of the charter, as he laid in a course for Mykonos, he was unaware of the danger. The course he plotted was a simple one; a straight line northeast, passing just south of Sifnos, to Mykonos. It looked like an easy sail, close-hauled into the forecast strong north winds.
An even greater danger posed by a Meltemi is the fall wind. When a strong wind encounters a mountain, it is lifted and further cooled on the upslope side. When it passes over the crest, it follows the slope down, compressing as it descends, and often picking up speed. On the lee – downwind – side of an Aegean island, this can cause sudden hurricane-force blasts of wind. Several of the Aegean islands are notorious for this peril, and one of these is Sifnos.
By the time the guests appeared for their breakfast, Trevor had Atlantis at sea, surging northeast at fifteen knots, under a full spread of sail. The seas were rough; a long swell from the north mixed with wind-driven chop, causing Atlantis to pitch, roll, and yaw as she angled across the swells.
Trevor was standing at the port helm when Blake strolled into the cockpit. “Good morning, sir. Where on Mykonos would you like to be put ashore?” Trevor asked, hoping that it would not be somewhere where he could encounter the Greek harbor police.
“The same beach you picked us up at. We can call a cab from a hotel. Just make sure we’re there by noon,” Blake replied.
Trevor smiled. “No problem there. We’ll be off Mykonos in about three hours, so around ten o’clock.”
“Good. You can anchor and we’ll wait for noon on board,” Blake said, and then he returned to the salon.
They were approaching Sifnos when Joel joined Trevor in the cockpit. “It’s rough today; should I offer the guests some seasick stuff? Mike is looking kinda green, and so is Barbra.”
Trevor cringed at the thought of guests throwing up in the salon; he’d had to clean up similar mishaps a couple of times before. He nodded. “There are Dramamine patches in every bathroom. Just remind them they’re there. I’ll keep tight in on the lee of Sifnos, which should give us a calmer sea for a while, but it’ll pick up again – probably worse than now – as we clear Sifnos and cross open water to Mykonos.”
Joel headed inside to tend to the guests, while Trevor conned Atlantis closer to what he thought would be the shelter offered by the coast of Sifnos.
When the ragged, mountainous coast of Sifnos was half a mile off the port beam, and Atlantis was in the calmer waters, shielded from the north swell, Joel returned. “They’re doing okay now. Barbra put on a Dramamine patch, but Mike thinks he’ll be okay without it,” Joel said, looking out to port and enjoying the view.
Mike joined them, seeking to quiet his churning stomach with some fresh air and an unobstructed view of the horizon. “How are we doing,” he asked, forcing himself to smile.
Trevor grinned. “Pretty good, except for the swells. We’re on a close-hauled reach across a north wind that’s topping thirty knots. It’s calmer here in the lee of the island, but we’ll be in open waters in about fifteen minutes. It’ll be rougher there. You might want to help yourself to a patch.”
Mike chuckled, feeling a little better. “Yeah, but I’m okay for now.”
Trevor was about to answer, when his eyes, sweeping the waters ahead and to port, fixed on something that sent a chill down his spine. Coming out of a bay, moving towards Atlantis at high speed, was a disturbance in the sea’s surface: an area of choppier water, whitecaps, and windblown spindrift. Trevor knew what it was, though not the cause, and yelled, “Hang on!” spinning the wheel hard to port, and Atlantis began turning towards the oncoming maelstrom.
The disturbance on the water was caused by a fall wind; a massive wall of wind cascading down the island’s slopes and then blasting out across the sea, like a fist upon the waters. Trevor knew it was a strong gust of wind; and with Atlantis carrying a full load of sail, being struck beam-on could be catastrophic. It was a recipe for a knockdown: the boat being forced over on her side by the sudden, massive power of the gust.
It hit with a fury, the first sign the humming from the rigging, a hum, growing higher and louder in tone, so powerful that they could feel it through the soles of their feet. Atlantis, only halfway through her turn, took the full brunt of the blast from her port forward quarter, the mast groaning from the sudden strain.
The wind howled through the cockpit, jumping within the space of seven seconds from a twenty-knot wind to an eighty mile per hour hurricane. Atlantis reeled from the blow, her speed dropping and her port hull beginning to rise. Trevor yanked hard at the main sheet, freeing it, letting the boom swing before the wind. He took up the slack in the sheets and centered the rudders as Atlantis completed her turn into the wind, her bows pointing at the rocky coast just a few hundred yards ahead. “Joel, take the con, fire up the engines, and keep her slightly off the wind while I furl the sails,” Trevor yelled above the shrieking wind that was battering Atlantis.
Trevor furled the foresail and the mainsail, trusting his engines more than a storm jib to deal with the unexpected windstorm.
In moments, it was over; the wind abated as suddenly as it had begun. Trevor turned Atlantis out to sea as he advanced the throttles, powering way from the menacing coast, and Mike made a mad dash for the stern railing, leaning over it just in time, as his stomach began to heave.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Trevor told Joel, sparing a moment to glace at his weather display.
“What the hell is going on,” Blake demanded, storming into the cockpit.
“I don’t know. It was a sudden blast of wind, hurricane-force, from the direction of the island,” Trevor replied.
Blake turned to look at Joel, who could only shrug, and then at Mike, who was still violently vomiting over the stern rail. Blake returned his attention to Trevor, and in a calmer tone, asked, “Are we in danger, and will this delay our arrival?”
Trevor turned Atlantis to the northeast and resumed course. “I think the island’s mountains might have been channeling the wind somehow, but whatever caused it, it’s only a danger if we’re carrying sail and it hits us beam-on. I’m proceeding on engines for a while, and that’ll reduce our speed. We’re about forty miles from Mykonos, so even if we go at ten knots, at worst we’ll be there by eleven, an hour before you need to be.”
Blake scowled. “We can’t miss our flight. Can’t you go faster than ten knots?”
Trevor shook his head. “Not in rough seas, it’s not safe,” Trevor replied. He didn’t want to argue, so he was lying; Atlantis could go faster than that on engines, even in rough water, but after the close call they’d had, Trevor preferred to be cautious.
“Can’t you raise the sails again, once we’re away from this island?” Blake asked, with an irritated glance towards shore.
“Blake, calm down. He said he’d have us there an hour before we need to be, so what’s the point of taking any risks?” Mike asked, as he staggered into the center of the cockpit.
“I suppose not. Just make sure we’re not late,” Blake told Trevor, and then asked Mike, “Are you okay?”
“I’ve been better, but I’ll be okay,” Mike replied, reaching into his pocket to retrieve a seasickness patch.
Blake nodded, and returned to the salon. Mike turned to face Trevor and Joel before saying, “Do me a favor, and don’t cook anything until we’re at anchor in calm waters.”
Joel gave Mike an understanding smile. “How about some orange juice, or sparkling water on ice?” Joel asked.
“The latter sounds good, lead the way,” Mike said, with a wan smile.
Joel glanced at Trevor and asked, “Are we okay? Do you need me here for anything?”
Trevor shook his head. “We’re fine, or should be.”
“I’ll be back in a few,” Joel replied, leading Mike inside.
The crossing to Mykonos was rough, but no worse than it had been prior to reaching Sifnos. Trevor remained at the helm, keeping a wary eye out as he conned Atlantis through the swells, taking them at an angle, and doing his best to keep Atlantis from rolling and pitching too much.
A mile from anchoring, the seas calmed suddenly, almost as if a switch had been thrown, and Atlantis glided into the placid waters of the bay.
Atlantis rode at anchor, and noon approached. Trevor began to load the suitcases into the Zodiac, and as he and Joel worked, Blake joined them. Blake reached into his pocket and handed Trevor a thick sheaf of hundred-Euro notes. “Thanks for the charter. We know you weren’t planning to do one. There’s an extra twenty Euros in there, buy yourselves lunch on me.”
Trevor glanced down at the bundle of money, before sticking it into his pocket and plastering a pleasant smile on his face. “Thank you. I hope you enjoyed the charter.”
“Gyaros was a disappointment, even without the munitions, we shouldn’t have gone there. Other than that, it was great. When are you returning to Florida? If we do a Caribbean trip, we’ll look you up for another charter. I’ve taken one of your cards from the salon.”
“Hopefully by May.”
“Maybe we’ll see you again then. Have a safe voyage,” Blake replied, and returned to the salon.
The scowl Trevor had been hiding appeared, and as they finished loading the Zodiac, he whispered to Joel, “Twenty is the smallest tip I’ve ever had.”
Mike came out, looking decidedly improved. He glanced back at the salon, and then handed Trevor a small envelope. “That’s from the rest of us. We know Blake usually doesn’t tip, so...”
Trevor smiled, pocketed the envelope, and shook Mike’s proffered hand. “Thank you, and have a safe trip home, Mike.”
Mike shook Joel’s hand, and then said, “I’ve got your card, too. Have a safe voyage.”
Mike returned to the salon, and Trevor took advantage of what he knew would be a brief moment of privacy to hand Joel the thick wad of banknotes Blake had given him. “We’ll worry about splitting the tips later, but this is yours. Put it in your pocket.” Joel began to open his mouth, but before he could say a word, Trevor angled his chin towards the salon, “We can’t discuss money in front of the guests.”
Mike and Jane emerged from the salon, leading the other guests, cutting off the reply Joel was planning to make. The smirk on Trevor’s face was enough to clue in Joel, who thought, ‘Trev timed that to shut me up...’
Trevor handled ferrying the guests and their luggage to shore, and helped them carry their bags to the hotel, where they called two taxis. He waited with them until they arrived, and then bid them farewell, waving as they pulled away.
When Trevor returned to Atlantis, he found Joel sitting in the cockpit, shirt off, drinking a coke and smiling. Trevor narrowed his eyes. “I know that look. What have you done?” Trevor asked, tugging off his own shirt.
Joel gave Trevor an innocent look. “Nothing, I’m just sitting here.”
Trevor thought for a moment, and then glanced at Joel’s shorts, noting the absence of a bulging pocket. “I don’t believe you... Where’d you put the money?”
“I put it away,” Joel replied.
“In my stash spot?” Trevor asked, arching an eyebrow.
Joel shrugged, and knowing Trevor would look, decided he might as well answer honestly. “Safest place on the boat, right?”
Trevor crossed his arms. “That’s yours, Joel.”
Joel grinned; he’d expected this, and had been planning his arguments for days. “Did you split charter fares with Julie?” Joel asked, though he was already fully aware that Trevor hadn’t.
Trevor thought for a moment, and then answered, “No, but you already knew that. But this was different; you set up the charter, and it was during your vacation. That’s yours.”
Joel shook his head. “I did it so you’d have more money for your trip. You’ll be gone a whole damn year, Trev.”
Trevor shook his head. “Right now, I’ve got access to my bank account via my ATM card. And, thanks to my half of the charter, I’ve got plenty of cash. There’s also something you haven’t thought of,” Trevor replied.
Joel narrowed his eyes. “What?”
Trevor patted the railing. “What if something happens? I’d be a lot better off if you take that and can then send me a loan. I don’t need it here, and it would be safer with you. If you don’t take it and I get robbed or something, you won’t be able to send me much, right?”
Joel opened his mouth, and then closed it again. Finally, he said, “Okay, I’ll take it home, but it’s still yours.” Trevor shook his head, but before he could reply, Joel swallowed once, his palms beginning to sweat, and in a nervous voice said, “Okay, save the arguments, we’ll figure it out when you get home. In the meantime, if you’re sure, I’d like about a grand of it, so I don’t have to drain my ATM. I also want to go to Turkey... and that’s why I need some of the money.”
Trevor could see that Joel was suddenly nervous. He sat down beside Joel, looked at him for a few seconds, and asked quietly, “Why Turkey?”
© 2010 C James
Please give me feedback, and please don’t be shy if you want to criticize! The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"
Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions.
Special thanks to Graeme, for beta-reading and advice.
Thanks also to Talonrider and MikeL for beta reading.
A big Thank You to RedA for Beta reading and advice, and to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice.
Any remaining errors are mine alone.